Part one can be found here.
After a long and busy day one, day two looked to be just as active, if not more active than the day before. After sleeping in a bit and getting some much needed rest, the first stop of the day was the Rio Grande Gorge State Park just to the west of Taos. When I arrived I was met by a deep chasm in the Earth that was a lot deeper than I initially expected. I stopped and walked out across the bridge, holding on to the rail as I went because I seem to lose all sense of balance in high places. My wife and oldest daughter got quite a kick out of watching me walk like I was taking a sobriety test, and quite literally it felt like if I was to let go of the rail I'd stumble like a drunk. After making it to the middle of the bridge I was greeted by quite a view, as the Rio Grande flowed below.
A quick look to the side saw a mountain sheep blended into the wall of the canyon and it was a really neat sight. I've never seen mountain sheep before and was really surprised to see them hanging out here.
After enjoying the gorge, we stopped for a bit of lunch and headed to the south of Taos to do some river rafting on the Rio Grande. We went through Cottom's River Rafting and they did a great job guiding us down the river through rapids and we even got to do some floating on the river outside of the raft.
The river was really a blast, and it was a fun diversion during the day during the direct sunlight. Once the sun went down it was time to get the camera back out and capture some more of the beautiful New Mexico countryside. I really wanted to focus on getting shots in the golden hour, then get some night shots with starts in the night sky.
It was a great night of shooting the stars although I could have lived without the full moon that was out, which made everything look like it was daylight outside.
The next day after we woke up we decided to take a 2 mile hike to Williams Lake above the Taos Ski Valley. The trail took us to an elevation of 11,020 feet to a beautiful mountain lake. I'd be lying if I said that we didn't stop more than a few times on the way up. The trail was a pretty gentle rise in elevation and at times went a little steeper, and it seemed much more when on the trail and not being used to the mountain air. We arrived a little after 11am and it was fairly warm with the lack of a breeze, but the hike paid off in a big way.
It was a really great trip, offered up a tons of photographic opportunities and I added some nice images to my portfolio. I can't wait to make it back to this beautiful place soon.
We're in the final week of voting in The Weather Channel's "It's Amazing Out There" photo contest. My entry this year is "Jewel of the Plains", a massive storm that was captured near Wheeler, Texas in April of 2015. The teal hue that came out of this storm was incredible, and the photo has done well in the contest, although I haven't pushed it sufficiently for the popular vote and it has fallen behind a little bit. People can vote each day logged in with their Facebook profile, and I surely could use your vote to finish up strong and possibly make some kind of push to the top. Thanks for your support!
Here's the link: Jewel of the Plains
I hadn't been much of anywhere since storm season came to and end. It was a pretty busy spring and it came to an amazing conclusion in Canadian, Texas with a large picturesque tornado just outside of town. I spent some downtime in June, paid off a few bills and enjoyed not having to go anywhere for a while. It doesn't take me long to get antsy though, so I though a trip to New Mexico would be nice. I didn't have any photos in my catalog from this beautiful state, and I knew it's wide open vistas and gorgeous mountain scenery would be a nice retreat from the blazing Oklahoma summer sun.
We got up early on Friday morning, 4 am to be exact and got on the road by 5 am. I always love driving in the early morning because there isn't much else you'd be doing so early except sleeping (which isn't a terrible thing), and everyone else is still either getting up or still sleeping, so low traffic is always a win for me. One thing you have to watch out for that early in the morning is the animals, and it didn't take long for me to encounter a coyote with a prize in it's mouth in the left lane of I-40. He hesitated in the road for just a second, not sure which way he should go with a mouthful of something that looked like the size of a large racoon. Luckily I was able to hit my brakes in time and gave him just enough time to cross the road and live to enjoy his meal.
As we crossed the Texas panhandle I came across a peculiar sight, at least in my experiences in the panhandle it was much different than the normal flat landscape. It was a field of pure pink, flowers that had bloomed in a wetland that was either from natural springs or remnants of flooding in the area. Either way, it was quite a sight to see and I had to capture it.
Later that morning we had crossed into New Mexico and you can tell the difference in landscapes as soon as you cross over the border. Passing through Clayton, we made our way west and I began to see the wide open vistas that I was so eager to get a view of. These types of scenes are some of my favorites, mainly for what you don't see. You don't see traffic, urgency, development, stress or any other man-made things. Just the land being what it is, and always has been.
A few hours later, near Springer I stopped to get some photos of the mountains nearby, but what really caught my eye were these cone flowers and their bright colors. This photo I named Happy.
Driving west out of Cimarron we worked our way up into the first wave of mountains east of Eagle's Nest, then past Angel Fire, eventually making it to Taos. Total population listed for Taos is just a tad less than 6,000 but the small town has some serious traffic and lots of visitors (like me) in the summer season, so I wouldn't be surprised if the town had anywhere between 12-18k people in it at any given time. It didn't take long for me to want to escape town for the quiet solitude of the mountains, so as we headed up into the Taos Ski Valley we stopped by a mountain stream and had an impromptu picnic.
After getting checked into our lodge for the weekend and catching up on a little sleep from leaving so early in the morning, we ventured out in the evening and captured some great shots of some monsoon storms that had developed along highway 522. This one was taken north of Arroyo Hondo and is called Desert Rain.
We traveled a bit further north hoping to get some open views of the open desert, but trees kept a lot of the views from being as good as I had hoped. It finally opened up just enough to get a shot of the mountains with rain falling on them near the town of Lama. This one is called Enchantment.
Finally we finished up the day and made it back to the lodge by nightfall. It was an incredible first day in New Mexico and there was much more to come in the next two days. Check back soon for part two of my photo expedition into Northern New Mexico.
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